By Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA -- What was described as “the perfect political crime” in a civil complaint filed on Tuesday in US District Court in Washington, DC, by attorneys acting for former Saint Lucia housing minister Richard Frederick is likely to become the subject of a criminal investigation in the US.
According to informed sources in Washington, a criminal report may have already been made in the matter to the Justice Department, which was not, however, prepared to comment on the case.
“As a matter of policy, we generally neither confirm nor deny whether a matter is under investigation,” said Peter Carr, public affairs specialist at the Department of Justice.
In the meantime, in a surprise turn of events, Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, was reported to have resigned abruptly on Friday morning.
It is not certain at this time whether or not Jacobs had any oversight responsibility for the State Department employees named as defendants in the Frederick law suit filed on Tuesday or whether her resignation is connected in any way to the Frederick law suit.
While saying earlier in the week that they do not “comment on cases that are pending litigation,” the State Department has not so far responded to a follow up request for comment on Jacobs’ resignation
The civil complaint filed on Tuesday contains details of an alleged conspiracy between George Deterville and other unnamed co-conspirators within the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), and certain named and unnamed US State Department employees to violate US law, namely, the willful neglect or omission by any consular officer to perform seasonably any duty imposed upon him or her by law, or by any order or instruction made or given in pursuance of law, or any willful malfeasance or abuse of power, or of any corrupt conduct in his or her office.
In particular, the complaint alleges that Deterville, a former police superintendent, who presently works in Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s office, and is described as “an SLP operative who conspired to have Frederick’s visas revoked”, was involved in an improper personal relationship with another defendant Susan Chainer, a former United States Embassy official, who had worked in the Bridgetown Embassy, where she is said to maintain contacts and influence.
Chainer, at Deterville’s urging, allegedly conspired with US embassy officials to create a false and improper basis for revoking Frederick’s visas, and then to revoke those visas to cause political embarrassment to Frederick for the political gain of the SLP and Deterville.
Since the complaint was filed on Tuesday, additional evidence has reportedly come to light that may indicate an ongoing criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice between SLP operatives and one or more of the State Department employees named in the civil complaint.
Neither the Saint Lucia government nor the SLP have responded to a request for comment on the allegations.
Further, Frederick’s own party, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is also blamed in the complaint for conspiring against him.
Immediately after the December 2006 election, then Prime Minister Sir John Compton, who “perceive[d] Frederick as a threat to his control” assured US embassy personnel that he had “taken steps to ensure Frederick would never take a leadership role in the UWP.”
Frederick’s political enemies -- including Compton’s daughter, Jeannine Compton of the UWP, and others -- continued to contact the Bridgetown Embassy through emissaries and personally, seeking information to harm Frederick politically and offering false statements about him.
Frederick’s visa revocations should have been confidential, but the news was publicised in the Saint Lucia media by Jeannine Compton, who stated on local television in September 2011, “The United States has obviously made a decision, and it is a matter of concern... because as a minister of government, you are to go to the United States or to go to other countries to represent Saint Lucia, and if you are not entitled to do this, how best are you going to represent Saint Lucia? And there must have been something grave to have your diplomatic visa revoked.”
It is not known at this time if current political leader of the UWP Allen Chastanet, previously described separately by US officials as “a long-time contact of the Embassy”, was involved in the UWP campaign against Frederick.
Again, a request for comment on the matter sent to the UWP earlier this week thus far remains unanswered.
However, local broadcaster Timothy Poleon weighed in on the issue this week.
“In the aftermath of that particular incident and particularly in the run-up to the 2011 general election airwaves were buzzing with a lot of talk about this and certainly it had a lot of implications not only for the individual at the centre of the matter but also for Saint Lucia as well in terms of the nation’s reputation. We were not talking about the revocation of an ordinary individual’s visa; we were talking about a government minister,” Poleon said on local radio.
He pointed out that, in a case where such an action has been taken against a key political figure, in this case against a government minister, the US authorities should be providing at least the government of the day with an explanation and clarification as to why the action was taken.
“We’ve had persons saying that then Prime Minister Stephenson King was provided with an explanation. We have since heard from Mr King that he has not been privy to why that action was taken against one of his ministers. We have also heard from Mr Fredrick as well that he was not given any form of explanation as to the reason for the revocation of his diplomatic and non immigrant US visas,” Poleon said.
The complaint deals with this issue by exhibiting letters between King as then prime minister and the US embassy in Bridgetown, with the latter declining to provide such explanation or clarification.
Prime Minister Kenny Anthony
Prime Minister Anthony, then leader of the SLP opposition, campaigned in the last general election on a promise, if elected, to make public the reasons behind the revocation of Frederick’s US visas. He has not yet done so since being re-elected to office in November 2011.
In what might be regarded as a prescient comment made at a political rally on September 26, 2011, Anthony stated, “If any one of you tonight standing here believes that the cancellation of the visas of Richard Frederick -- his personal visa, and his diplomatic visa -- is the end of this saga, you had better think twice!”
However, the “end of this saga” may not turn out to be exactly what Anthony had in mind at the time.
Then, on or about November 17, 2011, Stanley Felix, Frederick’s SLP opponent for the Central Castries seat, stated at another political rally, “Don’t vote for Richard Frederick because the FBI is coming for him just after the elections.”
On October 29, 2012, Frederick filed suit against Felix based on these false and defamatory statements. He was awarded a default judgment, entered August 6, 2013, after the court denied Felix’s motion to late-file an answer. Under Saint Lucia rules of procedure, the case remains pending for determination of damages.
“Definitely we need to get to the bottom of this particular matter,” Poleon said this week.
The complaint filed on Tuesday, which is provided here
for the convenience of readers, is also available online, along with other relevant documents and ongoing case updates at Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) http://www.pacer.gov/
Case #: 1:14-cv-00302-RC Frederick v. Hillyer et al